Substance Abuse and Treatment in Quincy, Massachusetts
Located in Massachusetts, Quincy is a medium-sized coastal city with an estimated population size of about 93,000 people. The city is the 8th largest city in the state and is known for their collection of pre-World War II memorabilia. This includes the city’s architectural heritage and other city treasures that make it one of the most historic places to visit in the country.
In the last couple of years, Quincy, along with other states in Massachusetts has been plagued with an endemic addiction particularly with heroin and opioid. The problem has grown to a catastrophic percentage targeting particular residents who are prone to drug abuse and alcohol dependence. Heroin addiction and opioid addiction poses as the biggest threat to the welfare of its citizens.
The Prevalence of Opioid and Heroin Overdose in Quincy
Teens and young adults in particular, has been the most susceptible part of the population whose increasing number of drug cases has grown over the years. In fact, drug addiction cases involving young residents as early as 12 steadily increase. Quincy was also listed to have the second highest number of deaths related to drug overdose within the state.
With an overdose rate surpassing its larger counterparts like Brockton, Lowell, and Springfield, Quincy has only surpassed by the City of Lynn whose rate of annual drug addiction overdose goes as high as 40.75% per 100,000 residents. Quincy, on the other hand, has an increasing rate of 34.6% per 100,000 residents.
On a state-wide average, opioid-related deaths reached an increased rate of 22% from 2015 to 2016, but slowly decreased by about 8% in 2017. The total number of reported deaths caused by opioid in the previous years grew to 2,155 cases, but in 2017, there were only 1,977 reported cases.
The number of residents succumbing to drug overdose is well above cities with the same land mass and number of population in the South Shore area. But because the city has been strongly unclear about its stance on drug addiction over the last few decades, this has lead to the proliferation of drug users not just for Quincy residents, but the whole state of Massachusetts.
Why Opioid Tops the List of Drugs Used in Quincy
Opioids are particular types of substances that pertain to the illicit use of heroin and prescription painkillers. Prescribed painkillers like Actiq, Darvocet, and OxyContin are some of the most widely used and abused medicines across the city.
The chemical components of these drugs are particularly targeting the nerve cells in the brain causing rapturous effects aside from relieving pain. It also affects the central nervous system and the constant bombardment of the chemical in the body leads to dependency and addiction.
Opioid and heroin addiction is also hard to treat because it targets neurotransmitters and nerve cells responsible for mood elevation and happiness. Only through a medical detox or drug detox can a person fully recover from the substance. Self-detoxification and substance withdrawal has always led to irreparable consequences.
Heroin is popular because it can be bought cheaply
Heroin, a particular type of opioid, can be easily acquired through local drug dealers and suppliers. It is not as expensive as before when it used to be associated with rock stars having pot sessions in hotel rooms. Heroin can be bought cheaply in the market and a drug addict can easily acquire the substance through common drugging acquaintances.
Nowadays, a person addicted to heroin can acquire the substance for a relatively low price of $3 a bag. The cheap price and availability in the black market have led to the proliferation of heroin abuse in and around Quincy.
Prescription opioids can be easily abused
Prescribed pain relievers like oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, fentanyl, and codeine also top medicines being closely watched by authorities. Because these drugs can be acquired through prescribed medications, a vast number of people are reported to be using illegal amounts leading to addiction.
While some of the prescribed opioids have been trending downwards since 2014, fentanyl-induced death has been going upward. This is partly because illegally manufactured synthetic fentanyl has become more and more available in the city. Several variations of the drug are also emerging including carfentanil and U-4770 (furanylfentanyl), a more potent and synthetic form of the drug.
Opioid & Heroin Induced Deaths in Quincy and in the State
Among the cities in Massachusetts, Quincy has the second highest opioid-fentanyl overdoses. According to reports from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Quincy places second after the City of Lynn to have the highest annual drug overdose rate.
What’s even more alarming is that death cases have continued to rise despite government efforts to reinforce a strict compliance to its drug prevention programs. Even the treatment approaches being used in the city has been put on the front line and questions about its effectiveness has been raised.
In the previous years alone, the state of Massachusetts through the Bureau of Substance Abuse Services has recorded to have a total of 48,092 drug abuse cases undergoing treatment admissions. 90% of the reported heroin drug abuse admissions were attributed to the unemployed population with 25.8% or 11,991 belonging to the homeless people.
The 2010 report from the US Department of Health and Human Services-SAMHSA Department indicated a total death count within the Boston-Cambridge-Quincy area of 43 with 18 deaths caused by opiates alone and 25 deaths caused by multiple drug intake. Opiates topped the drug being used during that year with young adult’s aged 21-34 falling victim to drug overdose and death.
Drug Overdose Cases Reported in Quincy
Reports about heroin and opiate overdose pop out from police reports and through the media around Quincy every now and then. Most of these cases result in death with young adults playing victim to the endemic problem of drug addiction.
Apart from that, dependence on prescribed pills has taken its toll to predisposed residents. The issue of addiction to medically prescribed drugs is becoming a constant worry from all sides of the Quincy legal and medical field. Some of the prolific reported cases of deaths caused by opioid and heroin overdose around the city include:
- 8 overdose cases in Quincy in less than 48 hours. A report was publishedby WCVB about several people suffering from drug overdose in less than 48 hours. Among these where two persons who suffered the fate in less than a 12-hour timeframe. Six of the reported victims were taken to the local hospital, monitored, and released. Police officers use Narcan to reverse the effects of opioid overdose, but the presence of a more potent synthetic drug makes it harder for police officers. Read story here.
- 19 opioid-related overdoses including 3 fatal incidents. Nineteen cases were recorded in September 2016 in just a span of 10 days. The case involved three fatal incidents where the overdose victims died. The age range of the overdose victims was a mix between the early 20s to old people nearing their 50s. Respondents say there are no clear denominations to link the users where some of the overdose incidents were caused by prescribed medicines and some were caused by heroin. Read story here.
- Woman suffers from heroin overdose in Quincy District Court lockup cell. A woman whose name was not released suffered from heroin overdose before the court closed. The 25-year old woman who appeared voluntarily in court appeared to be under the influence. The woman was given Narcan and taken to the local hospital to be monitored. She was taken into custody at the Norfolk County Sheriff’s Department after. Read full story here.
What Authorities Are Doing About the Endemic Drug Addiction
Because opiate and heroin addiction are prevalent in Quincy and the rest of Massachusetts, government officials are working hard to find a proper solution to the problem. Aside from forming strong legislation and enforcing a solid mandate against drug traffickers, the state of Massachusetts also funds preventive strategies based on the areas largely affected by a certain drug.
These programs are federally funded and uniquely tailored to address the issue and help local residents lead a life away from opiate addiction. Through education and rehabilitation, concerned officials are hoping to see a drastic decline in heroin and opioid addiction.
- Annual grants for severely affected areas. The city government grants $120,000 annually for areas critically affected by prescription drug abuse. Grantees are required to use this funding to stem the tide of drug addiction and the proliferation of opiate and heroin abuse in their areas. These areas can also use the funding for education and treatment program to help recovering addicts sustain their sobriety.
- A new bill to combat the addiction epidemic. New laws have been passed to help the government combat opiate addiction. The bill is expected to lay a solid foundation that will help law enforcement agencies develop strategies that are geared towards prevention. The new bill also incorporates access to treatment and long-term recovery programs needed by substance abuse victims. Called the SBIRT (Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment), the new directive allows addicts to voluntarily sign a compulsory agreement and agree upon their needed treatment.
- Education and prevention programs. New approaches are being enforced all over Quincy to help addicted people get a better life. In the recent months, police authorities have announced a new directive that will help addicts recover from their using illicit drugs. This includes declaring their substance addiction and seeking help for their heroin and opioid misuse. Authorities have conferred that these individuals will not be arrested which puts a stress on the need for help rather than persecution.
Massachusetts Newly Implemented Section 35 Legislation
The endemic problem with opioid and heroin not only in Quincy, but the whole state has brought the government to a stance where drastic changes have to be enforced. But considering that these addicted individuals are not criminals, but rather victims of addiction, the members of legislature, law enforcement, and healthcare providers have come together to help these individuals recover.
Under the new legislation, entitled Section 35, an individual who confesses to an addiction is entitled to undergo a substance abuse program. Depending on the severity of the addiction, an addict willing to recover can participate in a treatment program for up to 90 days.
This new regulation is also being strictly followed in Quincy to give addicts a chance to live a new life. People who profess to their addiction are sent to a government chosen facility and commit himself to complete the whole treatment program in order to be dismissed of addiction charges.
Community leaders see this as a calling for change amidst the drug crisis facing the State. Quincy, in particular, has been strong in its support for the new law. A lot of people see this as an encouraging move on the government to help people regain their lives and not be indicted for what might possibly be a psychological problem.
The new legislation not only includes rehabilitation for substance addicts, but also the enhancement of public education, raising awareness about the social problem, and preventive measures for the whole community. An ongoing care for recovering addicts also makes it possible for a lot of people to continue living a healthy life and stay away from their old self.
Treatment Protocols Implemented in Quincy, Massachusetts
Because opioid and heroin addiction severely affects the body and mind, Quincy and the state of Massachusetts follow strict guidelines to enforce an effective drug addiction treatment. When deciding to seek help, the most important thing you need to understand is that the whole process is about you and how you can let go of your heroin addiction or opioid dependence.
Putting yourself at the heart of everything will ensure that you stay motivated and focused on the whole process of healing. Effective approaches and modalities are used in conjunction with counseling and detoxification so you can have a holistic recovery.
Also, as your recovery starts with either an intervention or a personal decision, committing to the whole process will allow you to get the best experience and make things a little easier both on your part and the attending clinicians.
The Aspects of Your Drug Treatment
Assessment and Intake
Before your admission, you will undergo a series of assessment procedures so counselors and attending physicians can determine the severity of your addiction. This process includes a series of interviews followed by a complete physical examination. Determining a co-occurring disorder is an important part of determining the severity of your case as it can be an obstacle towards addiction recovery. The intake process will let get you acquainted with the environment you will engage yourself with for the duration of your treatment. This phase is also where you get to be familiar with the guidelines you need to follow while in recovery.
Detoxing off opiates can be the hardest phase of your recovery as you will experience some of the worst opioid withdrawal symptoms. Experiencing depression, tremors, agitation and other physical and psychological difficulties are part of the process as the body gets rid of the toxin buildup. Heroin detox in itself can be damaging as it often leads to suicidal tendencies. A supervised medical prescription will ensure that you become stable enough to lessen the discomforts you feel. The length of your detox also varies on the severity of your addiction and constant monitoring is needed during this phase.
Education and Counseling
Staying motivated during the course of your addiction treatment may be a hard battle, but to rekindle it, you need to be educated and counseled. This is often done through a series of workshops including a group or one-on-one session with your counselor. Education is important as it instills the values of being sober and counseling allows you to penetrate the deepest levels of what perpetrates your addiction.
Most treatment centers include therapy as part of the treatment process to take your mind off your addiction. Certain activities like hiking, yoga and meditation, equine therapy, and several other therapeutic elements will be included in your program to complete the recovery process. Therapy is an important component of your drug addiction treatment as it provides you with life-changing lessons and that can be indispensable tools you can use when sober.
This is sometimes the missing part of an opioid dependence treatment to make it more effective. Because opioid addiction targets and alters the biochemical processes of your body, staying away from the drug can be a hard battle. Sometimes called an aftercare program, this phase allows you to reinforce all the lessons you’ve learned while staying sober. Being involved in continued care also allows you to get in touch with people who are facing the same difficulties as you are.
The ultimate reward for being committed to your treatment program is sober living. Although it can be a lifelong battle, sobriety is not impossible. Maintaining close contact with your sober friends and being continuously committed to a healthy way of living is a way to reinforce all the lessons you’ve learned during your heroin treatment.